"We're gonna' win."
That was the phrase residents at Greenwood Care and Rehabilitation Center chanted at one another Tuesday afternoon, as four teams of at least eight people are participating in a cupcake war at the facility today at 2:15 p.m.
Inspired by "Cupcake Wars," a popular reality television show on Food Network that showcases people having friendly cupcake baking and decorating competitions, Stacy Prisco, the admissions and marketing manager, said the idea for the celebration was collaborative, as staff members and residents agreed on the suggestion.
"We were trying to think of something a little unusual to do for Valentine's Day because it's hard when you lose a loved one, and a lot of people here have spouses that they've lost," Prisco said. "We wanted to do something a little more upbeat, and involve the residents and staff together."
The residents are literally eating up the fun, as they have been snacking on sweets as they prepare for the competition. They've been working on their projects for more than a month. Each group received $25 from the center's budget, which they used to purchase props and materials.
Prisco's team, "Leaps for Love," decided to go with a fairytale theme, and designed a castle. They used cardboard boxes to create the frame of their castle, and lined the outside of it with aluminum foil. They drew squares on the foil with black markers to make the castle appear like stone.
Emily Piette, who serves as the center's concierge and also works in admissions, made a frog-shaped cookie, which will be perched atop the castle. Last Saturday, they made chocolate lollypops shaped like lips, as well as chocolate frogs, which will be adorned on the cupcakes.
Dale Jenkins, who colors often and made Valentine's Day cards for everyone in the center, said she had fun melting the chocolate.
"Dale was a pro," Prisco said.
Residents Lillian Cota and Helen Watson said taking part in the event so far has been "fun," while Ted Plouff said today will mark the first time he will frost a cupcake.
"I had my wife for 63 years, and she did all the cooking," he said. "I don't know how to frost them, but I'll frost them. And I don't care what kind of cupcakes they are, as long as I'm going to eat them."
For Virginia Callahan, working with the staff is the sweetest part.
"They are really friendly," she said, as Piette added, "It's a big family here. Everyone loves to participate and be together. It's a great way for residents to get to know other residents they don't normally associate with."
Another team, "Cupcake Warriors," is also incorporating frogs into their presentation. Additionally, they are using different sized cupcakes, which were prepared by chef David Kruzona, who baked 200 cupcakes for the occasion. He will also serve as a judge during the competition.
"The rules just said 50 cupcakes; they didn't say what size they had to be," said one of the facility's unit managers, Lisa Magiera. "We have a giant cupcake on the top of our display."
Team member and resident Myron Winoker is enjoying the event because he said it gives him something fun to do. His teammate, Cynthia Casey, said it gives her a sense of accomplishment.
"It's something new in the culture and helps them stay in tune with things that are going on now," said Marguerite Simpson, assistant director of nursing.
"Team Frost" is incorporating animals into their theme, as well. Instead of frogs, they've created a scene for a "hippopotamus wedding."
They spent most of Tuesday afternoon making hippo heads from peanut-shaped cookies and cheerios. The cookies will be propped atop blue-frosted cupcakes to make an appearance that the hippos are poking their heads out of the water to watch the ceremony.
Sherri Giordano, a cook at the center, said they came up with the theme because the director of nursing, Kathy Bedard, is a big-time hippo fan.
Like the other teams, "Team Frost" is having a great time working as a group.
"It's all about getting them together and out of their rooms," Giordano said. "We want them socializing."
Residents Virginia Waldraff and Cristallina Germani said they think the competition is a "wonderful" idea, and Hilda Silveira said the experience is uplifting.
"It's something that I thought I never could do because I'm legally blind," she said. "I'm a little slower than others, but I'm right in there with them. I know almost everyone here, and it's a chance to get together and laugh."
Agnes Troiano agreed.
"It's nice being around other people," she said. "And we get to eat the samples."
Danny Odsen felt the same, and shared his sentiments while snacking on a cookie.
"It's good that we have something to do that's creative, rather than sitting around," he said. "It keeps us active."
The fourth and final team, "Sugar Babes and Dude," don't have any animals in their presentation, as they are putting together a cupcake beach scene. The beach will feature a carnival, complete with a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round.
"We brainstormed our ideas and each thought of something," said resident Connie Voisin.
Another resident, Jane Keenan, said she likes the fact that they've been singing as they work, while Gladys Yaghjian had a different thought in her mind as she fantasized about the cupcakes.
"I can't wait to dig in," she said.